Spouse visa

To apply as a partner, you, and your partner both need to be 18 or over. Your partner must also either:

  • be a British or Irish citizen
  • have settled in the UK for example, they have indefinite leave to remain, settled status or proof of permanent residence
  • be from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and have presettled status they must have started living in the UK before 1 January 2021
  • have a Turkish Businessperson visa or Turkish Worker visa
  • have refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK

You and your partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK after you apply. To be eligible to apply for a spouse visa You must be able to prove one of the following:

  • you’re in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK
  • you’ve been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years when you apply
  • you are a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner and will marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of arriving
  • have a good knowledge of English
  • can financially support yourself and your dependants

Tier System

Tier 1

The UK Tier 1 category is for highvalue migrants. The UK Tier 1 category has the following visa subcategories:

  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

For Individuals internationally recognised in the sciences or arts.

  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

For Individuals who wish to set up, take over, or join an already established business or
businesses in the UK.

  • Tier 1 (Investor)

For Individuals who want to make a significant financial investment in the UK.

  • Tier 1 (General)

For Individuals applying as highly skilled workers, this category is now currently closed to persons outside of the UK and most persons inside the UK.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

For Individuals who graduated from University in the UK and who have been recognised for innovative or entrepreneurial skills.

Tier 2 Visa

The UK Tier 2 category is for skilled workers, and has the following sections

Tier 2 (General)

Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)

Tier 2 (Sportsperson)

Tier 2 (IntraCompany Transfer)

Tier 3

The UK Tier 3 category is currently suspended. It was originally used for lowskilled workers during labour shortages.

Tier 4

The UK Tier 4 category is for adult students aged 16 or over.

Tier 5

The UK Tier 5 category is for temporary workers. The UK Tier 5 has 5 categories:

Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting)

Tier 5 (Charity Workers)

Tier 5 (Religious Workers)

Tier 5 (International Agreement)

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)

You need a family visa to live with a family member in the UK for more than 6 months.

Apply on the basis of your private life

You can only apply on the basis of your private life if you’re already living in the UK.

You must be able to prove that you’re:

  • under 18 and you’ve lived in the UK continuously for at least 7 years, and it would be unreasonable to expect you to leave the UK
  • between 18 and 24 and you’ve lived continuously in the UK for more than half your life
  • 18 or over, have spent less than 20 years in the UK and would have very significant problems living in the country you’d have to go to – for example, you do not speak the language and could not learn it
  • 25 or over and you’ve been in the UK continuously for 20 years

Your family members can apply on the same application you’ll be considered separately.

Extending your family visa

You can apply to extend your stay with your family member if you’re already in the UK on a family visa.
You can extend at any time before your current permission to stay in the UK expires.
If you’re extending to stay with the same family member, you’ll only get up to 28 days left on your current stay added to your new visa.

10 years long Residence


You must have permission to stay (‘leave to remain’). This can be in any immigration category, or a combination of different immigration categories.

You must also have:

  • been in the UK legally for 10 years (known as your ‘continuous residence’)
  • kept to the terms of your UK visa

If you’re aged 18 to 65 years old, you must:

If you do not meet these 2 requirements you can apply to extend.

Your 10-year qualifying period starts from either:

  • when you arrived in the UK with a visa
  • when you were given permission to stay in the UK
Continuous residence

Continuous residence is time you’ve spent in the UK without gaps.

You can leave the UK during the continuous residence for up to:

  • 180 days at a time
  • 540 days in total

You cannot count time spent in:

  • a prison, young offender institution or secure hospital
  • Ireland, the Isle of Man or Channel Islands
Graduate Visa

A Graduate visa gives you permission to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after successfully completing a course in the UK.

You must be in the UK when you apply.

If you or your family are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

If you or your family member started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme.

The deadline to apply was 30 June 2021 for most people. You can still apply if either:

  • you have a later deadline – for example, you’re joining a family member in the UK
  • you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for being unable to apply by 30 June 2021 – for example, you had an illness or were the victim of domestic abuse

Check if you can still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.


You can apply for a Graduate visa if all of the following are true:

  • you’re in the UK
  • your current visa is a Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • you studied a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree or other eligible course for a minimum period of time with your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • you’ve successfully completed that course

Check if your course is eligible and how long you need to have studied in the UK.

If you’re not eligible for a Graduate visa, you may be eligible for another type of visa to stay in the UK.

How long you can stay

A Graduate visa lasts for 2 years. If you have a PHD or other doctoral qualification, it will last for 3 years.

British Citizenship

British citizenship gives you the right to live and work in the UK permanently, without any immigration restrictions.

You need British citizenship before you can apply for a UK passport.


To stay in the UK as a refugee you must be unable to live safely in any part of your own country because you fear persecution there.

If you’re stateless, your own country is the country you usually live in.

This persecution must be because of:

  • your race
  • your religion
  • your nationality
  • your political opinion
  • anything else that puts you at risk because of the social, cultural, religious or political situation in your country, for example, your gender, gender identity or sexual orientation

You must have failed to get protection from authorities in your own country.

When your claim might not be considered

Your claim might not be considered if you:

  • are from an EU country
  • travelled to the UK through a ‘safe third country’
  • have a connection to a safe third country where you could claim asylum

Generally, a safe third country is one that:

  • you’re not a citizen of
  • you would not be harmed in
  • would not send you on to another country where you would be harmed